Writing Tip #74

Use exclamation points effectively. I’m a fan of the exclamation point. I use them all the time in Facebook posts or text messages when I want to note my exuberance about something, which is quite often. But posts and texts are quick and solitary bursts of information:

Finished my taxes! Yippee!

It’s GAWGEOUS outside!

When it comes to writing a novel, I use them much more sparingly. You have to, or else the overuse — just like with adjectives or adverbs — will minimize their effectiveness. I read recently that you should have no more than two or three exclamation points per 100,000 words of prose. Since I’m a thriller writer, I suspected I had way more than that ratio in Baby Grand, and a quick “find” proved me right — by page 44, I’d already counted nine.

But that’s okay. In my opinion, the number of times you use exclamation points is not really the point; it’s whether or not you are using them efficiently and successfully. And if you are, then yippee!



One thought on “Writing Tip #74

  1. I agree Dina, after all exclamation marks are as valid as full stops, commas, hyphens and the rest – I don’t see anybody imposing restrictions on these anywhere. Like all grammar it’s about how well they are used. Of course if you have ten per page it becomes tiresome and there is no ebb and flow to your writing if everything is so aggressive, emotional or loud…but In certain sections of dialogue, in an argument let’s say, exclamation marks become quite necessary to explain to the reader where the highs and lows of the conversation are occurring. So in conclusion you are spot on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I think I might have overdone that at the end, sorry…

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